Tag Archives: The Novel Cure Reading Challenge

Patience by John Coates

Patience by John Coates Title: Patience
Author: John Coates
Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1903155899
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Another book on adultery. This time yet again from, “The Novel Cure” Reading Project. This time a book which probably very few people would have heard of, called, “Patience” by John Coates. I could not wait to get my hands on it and when I did, I waited. I tend to do that sometimes. I wait. Till I am ready for the book. Or rather the book is ready for me. “Patience” was ready for me this month and I jumped right into it.

“Patience” is about Patience – she is the protagonist, who is Catholic, and is way too familiar with the concept of Sin. She is not happy in her marriage. Edward is not the kind of husband she wants to be with. He is being unfaithful to her (We come to know of this at the beginning of the book, when her brother Lionel tells her so). He is fond of her and his family of three daughters, but would rather have a son. Until Patience decides that she has had enough. She begins to live her life on her own terms and things get pretty interesting from thereon.

The book is brilliantly written, with characters behaving the way probably you and I would in situations they are in. Patience, initially comes across as timid and naïve but according to me, as the novel progresses her true nature and the strength of character is apparent, which left me hooting for me, long after the book finished. John’s sensibilities and character portrayal is way ahead of its time. Patience is set in a time when women cannot think of living the way Patience did and to me that is commendable.

I also sometimes wondered what it would be like for a man to write a book from a woman’s perspective. Maybe it is not that difficult at all. Patience is proof of that. A book which makes you think, smile and cheer all the way. Please do not miss it.

This one was to cure Adultery from The Novel Cure Reading Challenge.

Next Up: The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I was thinking about clubbing these two Novel Cure Challenge Reads together and it only made sense – considering how similar the protagonists are. Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary are bound to be clubbed. I remember reading and rereading these books for the longest time and somehow in a very strange way, I could relate to them. I am not married. I am not a woman. There has been no instance of adultery then, of course, but still there is some affinity which I cannot name or pinpoint. I am only too glad to have reread these books. They certainly brought back a lot of memories.

We all know (or at least most of us do) how it works out for these feisty women. Both stuck in unhappy marriages. I think it would be apt to call their marriages boring, or rather the men they are married to. Charles Bovary almost comes across as a dullard who could not care less about Emma’s youth or her desires or what she wants from life. Anna Karenina on the other hand has everything she could want, but somehow the all-consuming love is just not there, till she meets Count Vronsky.

Emma’s life is ridden with men – her father, her husband, her neighbour, the greedy moneylender, the pharmacist, the pharmacist’s assistant, and her two lovers. She knows it will only end in disaster and yet she wants it all, just like Anna. Anna knows the Russian societal norms and yet she will go to any length to get what she wants. Both these nineteenth-century heroines risk it all, for there is only one life to live. All they want is passion. They want love and they just keep searching for it, everywhere they can. Even if it means they have to end it by giving up their lives. Every time I have read these books, I wished they would come out of it alive and they don’t. I know it but I want to believe that everything works out for them, though it does for some time. These novels were also written in times when both countries, Russia and France were going through changing times. Maybe that is why they were considered so radical for their time.

I have never intended to read these classics with a lot of analysis. For me, they are just testimonies to what I connect to relate to – all the unrequited love, the trapped lives dictated by hypocritical societies and the alienation of the self, despite being loved and surrounded by many.

The anguish of the women comes through superbly in both these books and to me what is also surprising is that these books were written by men. Men who were very strong in their own way and manner and extremely eccentric as well, not to mention, womanizers – maybe that is why they could capture the feminine essence with such aplomb in both these works.

The translations again, when it comes to classics such as these matter the most. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Anna Karenina) and Lydia Davis (Madame Bovary) have done more than just a wonderful job with the words and their interpretation. I think for me most of the time loving these two classics have come from these translations. And yes I also think that perhaps there is no cure for adultery. You have to go through it. There is no moral ground. Anything for happiness, I think.

Next Up in the Novel Cure Challenge: Patience by John Coates

Book Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publisher: Vintage Classics
ISBN: 9780099572954
Genre: Children’s Classics
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

“The Secret Garden” is a friend’s favourite book. He cannot stop raving about it. He was after my life to read it at so many points in life and yet I just would not. Maybe I was not ready for it then. But when I was I picked it up and loved it. It was a part of the Novel Cure Reading Challenge. The book is featured under: To Cure Adoption and that is what the book is partly about, or I would say very superficially about. It is more about finding home and something magical in your heart, as cliché as it may sound.

Mary Lennox’s family is dead. Her parents and most of her family died due to a cholera breakout. She is the only one surviving and found all by herself in a big huge house. She is lonely. She pretends to be brave and she is not at all courageous. She is only ten years old and never known what it is like to be loved and perhaps to love someone. Till she chances upon a garden – a locked, derelict garden, which comes to become a place she loves and a garden which heals her and teaches her how to love and to be loved.

I have not said much about the story because I would want readers to explore and find out the way I did. The writing is fantastic. It does not seem that it was written such a long time ago, and published in 1910. The themes are as relevant today. The angst of childhood and the need to find out more is omnipresent and exists in every child. To me, the book is one of the best children’s classics I have read in a long time and will most certainly reread it.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Challenge: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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Book Review: The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie

The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie Title: The Cuckoo Boy
Author: Grant Gillespie
Publisher: To Hell with Publishing
ISBN: 9780955460944
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin of The Novel Cure
Rating: 5/5

I had heard of “The Cuckoo Boy” by Grant Gillespie through The Novel Cure and it was a part of my reading challenge – The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. It is a cure for adoption and yet somewhere down the line, there is to more to the book than what meets the eye.

It is a story of a dysfunctional couple – Sandra and Kenneth adopting Baby James and how their world spins out of control thereon. There is an imaginary friend David, who enters the scene and very soon there is a real friend David who also enters the picture, thus making the book and the plot, slightly chillier. The book is seen through the eyes of James and his parents. The emotional expectations are almost the centrepiece of this novel. It is about worlds colliding – the real and the imaginary, which makes the book what it is – juicier and scarier.

There are moments in the book, when you look back on your shoulder to see if there is anything going on at all. Grant does not give all the answers to readers. He makes them hang to turn the pages and find out more. It is also in so many ways a whodunit, given the situations and the revenge exacting nature of James. The book is tricky – one starts to wonder if the parents are wrong or the child is wrong, till the puzzle fits itself.

The story is tight and yet sometimes loses out on the overall communication of the plot. Having said that, I would still give it a five, because of the sheer force of writing. The dread surrounding the book is eerie and the atmosphere is only full of macabre. A read for a dark winter’s night, because this is exactly the kind of book you want to take to bed.

Next up on the challenge: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Signature Editions
ISBN: 978-1435136540
Genre: Classic
Pages: 328
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

If there is one classic, which I go back to every year and continue to do so, without as much batting an eye-lid then that has to be, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. For some it is Pride and Prejudice. For others it could be anything by Mark Twain. For me, it is just this sole book written by Emily Bronte, who according to me was also the most interesting amongst the three.

I never need a reason to read this one, however this time; I also read it for The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. While it is a story of passion and love, it is also a story of class, of families, of how one cannot resist and yet must one do what society dictates. At the core however, it is a love story like none other. The story is dark. It is not pretty. It is not meant to be. It was considered vulgar and preposterous when it was first published. Emily went to her grave thinking she was a failure. The book was reprinted by Charlotte and now it is one of the most beloved classics of our times.

Wuthering Heights is narrated by Nelly Dean. She has lived around for a long time. The story is told in extended flashback to a lodger or rather the tenant at Thrushcross Grange. Nelly narrates the story of Heathcliff and Catharine – of their obsession, their love and their madness. Of how they could not be together and yet would not give up each other for the world.

I remember reading the novel for the first time when I was thirteen. I was depressed for a week. The empathy towards Heathcliff and the need to also beat him up was strong. The need to for once, allow Heathcliff and Catharine to be happy ever after was beyond anything else which I ever wanted and yet I knew this was not possible.
The book evokes strange feelings in the reader and those feelings remain. It is more than just unrequited love. You know there is only one way in which this story will end and yet – you pray that things become alright and they do, in a different way of sorts. The core theme also, mostly forgotten is that Heathcliff is an outsider. He has been adopted by Mr. Earnshaw at the beginning of the novel, which Hindley, Catharine’s brother cannot stand. This is just the start of things to come though.

At some point you feel Catharine also detests him and to some extent maybe that is true, but you know that love will prevail and she is merely trying to succumb, but you know she is stronger than that. Wuthering Heights will break your heart – even if you do not want it to, it will. There is no way out from that one. A read which you will never forget for years to come, that is for sure.

This one as per the Novel Cure is to Cure Adoption.

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